The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale of eight F-16 C/D Block 70/72 aircraft better known as the F-16 Viper and related equipment to Bulgaria at an estimated cost of $1.67 billion, the Pentagon said on Monday. The proposed sale will contribute to Bulgaria’s capability to provide for the defense of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the United States and NATO. Bulgaria currently relies on the United States and the United Kingdom to participate in joint air policing. By acquiring these F-16s, Bulgaria will be able to provide for the defense of its own airspace and borders. The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corp, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement. Other systems and services include a flight and maintenance simulator, communications equipment, facilities and construction support, spares parts, training and U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering and logistical support services.
Last year, Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a plan to procure eight F-16V Block 70 fighter jets aimed at replacing its ageing Soviet-designed MiG-29s. Included are nine Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, which uses technology derived from F-22 and F-35 radars, and four AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER Targeting Pods. Weapons include 16 AIM-120 C7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs); 24 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles; nine M61 Vulcan 20mm cannons; 15 GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II guided bomb kits; 15 GBU-54 Laser JDAM guided bomb kits; 28 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB-1); and 24 MK-82 Bombs (Tritonal). Defensive systems include nine AN/ALQ-211 Internal Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites, countermeasure dispensers and 4,140 Infrared Flare countermeasures. The F-16 Block 70/72 is the newest and most advanced F-16 configuration to date, with a structural life more than 50 percent beyond that of previous F-16 aircraft, it first flew in October 2015.